A BRIEF STUDY OF: ATHANASIUS vs ARIUS
By, Dr. Peter Vourliotis
Athanasius left the Council of Nicea in 325 having scored a great victory for orthodoxy. He was the chief critic of Arianism-the belief that Jesus was not fully God, and the secretary of Alexander.
And, Athanasius was just a 27-year old deacon and not a bishop, and thus, not part of the Council.
The council had decided that Jesus the Son of God is in fact, “Light of Light”(Φως εκ Φωτός), “True God of True God(Θεόν αληθινόν εκ Θεού αληθινού),” “Begotten and not created(Γεννηθέντα, ου ποιηθέντα).”
The council had also condemned the Arians, that “Those who say ‘There was a time when He was not (God)… are condemned by the holy catholic and apostolic church.”
Emperor Constantine sent a letter, ordering that any treatise composed by Arius be burned, “in order that not only his depraved doctrine be suppressed, but also that no memorial of him may be by any means left.”
The penalty of hiding one of Arius’ works was death.
Two years later, Constantine changed his mind about Arius and allowed him to start preaching again. At the same time, Athanasius was falsely accused of murder and sought an audience with the emperor. Constantine was furious and sent Athanasius to exile 1,200 miles away.
Later, Constantine died and his son succeeded him to the throne. In less than two years, the new emperor exiled Athanasius and replaced him with an Arian bishop. Athanasius would be exiled five times, for more than a third of his 45 years as patriarch of Alexandria. But, each time he returned, Athanasius succeeded in repelling the heresy.
Athanasius died in peace. But six years later, Gregory Nazianzen went to Constantinople to find nearly every Christian in the city to be Arian, Except for one small congregation.
At which point in this story it is clear that Athanasius was right.
He knew that ultimately every knee would bow and every tongue would confess that Jesus is the Lord and true God.
He knew that Arianism would fail. But he didn’t know when. In a year, in his lifetime or at Christ’s return.
We don’t know either,
But, we know who holds tomorrow and who holds my hand.
They said that industrialization was going to make the world secular.
They said that kicking the missionaries out of China would kill Christianity there.
Today China has the world’s most Christians.
Luther expected to die an anathematized Heretic.
He became a reformer.
The majority of the US Supreme Court said that Christians are the enemies of the world.
At 51 AD the Supreme Court of Athens said to Paul we’ll hear you again, When he spoke about the Resurrection of Christ.
Paul said that his preaching of a crucified Christ was το the Jews a
“scandal”(σκάνδαλο), and to the Greeks “foolishness.(μωρία)”.
But, he added,
“preaching the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,”(ο λόγος του σταυρού στους απολλυμένους είναι μωρία) and “the foolishness of God is wiser than men,(το μωρον του Θεου είναι σοφότερο των ανθρώπων) and
«The weakness of God is stronger than men.”(το ασθενές του Θεοιύ, ισχυρότερο των ανθρώπων)
And, he also said,
“I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” Are you ashamed of the gospel of Christ?